June 13, 2010

Subsidiarity...

From Pope Benedict's Encyclical Deus Caritas Est:

...Love—caritas—will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable. The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern.

We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. The Church is one of those living forces: she is alive with the love enkindled by the Spirit of Christ. This love does not simply offer people material help, but refreshment and care for their souls, something which often is even more necessary than material support. In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live "by bread alone" (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3)—a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human....

I could write a long screed about how subsidiarity should be our organizing principle in public life, but what's the use. The people who would "get it" will tend towards that sort of thing anyway. And anyone else who reads... their minds will just glaze over.

Word Note: Many Catholic terms that seem portentous and alien are just nicknames retained when other groups have moved with the times. "Encyclical" just means circular letter. In olden times there were no bulk-mailings. A letter from a leader to the people would be passed from one person to the next. In this case from one bishop to the next.

More Important Word Note: (Wikipedia)
Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. The Oxford English Dictionary defines subsidiarity as the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level. The concept is applicable in the fields of government, political science, cybernetics, management, military (Mission Command) and, metaphorically, in the distribution of software module responsibilities in object-oriented programming (according to the Information expert design guideline). Subsidiarity is, ideally or in principle, one of the features of federalism, where it asserts the rights of the parts over the whole.

The word subsidiarity is derived from the Latin word subsidiarius and was first described formally in Catholic social teaching (see Subsidiarity (Catholicism)).[1] The concept or principle is found in several constitutions around the world (for example, the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which asserts States rights)...
Posted by John Weidner at June 13, 2010 7:47 AM
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